A number of recent announcements have cemented the West Midlands’ status as the UK’s new digital powerhouse and public sector hub. The West Midlands will not only be the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed, but a series of new initiatives launched last week will catalyse public services in the region and position the West Midlands as the UK’s new digital powerhouse.
The West Midlands’ digital economy is flourishing. Not long after the region was named the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed, a series of announcements were made last week that reinforce the West Midlands as the UK’s new digital powerhouse. These announcements demonstrate a growing confidence from government in the leading role our region can play in transforming public services through technology and innovation.
The West Midlands firstly welcomed the news that HM Courts and Tribunals Service is to create a new Digital Hub in region. The unit, comprising up to 100 tech and digital roles, will add to the existing expansion of HMCTS in Birmingham, where the country’s first Courts & Tribunals Service Centre will be located.
In addition to this, a new pop-up GDS Academy, operated by the Government Digital Service, will compliment this vision and build on the West Midland’s status as both a public sector and digital hub. The GDS Academy is also planning to run a series of courses in Birmingham, which will also support with training and upskilling civil servants in digital, data and technology roles.
Last week, we also saw Paul Maltby, Chief Digital Officer at the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government launch a £7.5 million Local Digital Fund, supporting the Local Digital Declaration that launched in July this year. Government is inviting local authorities to bid for funding to help equip them with the resources to deliver the agenda set out in the Local Digital Declaration, and to help train local digital leaders.
An additional programme of support for businesses in the region was announced by PwC’s Hamzah Khaled. The PwC Scale Programme will be launching in the Midlands in January; an initiative which seeks to drive innovation in both the private and public sectors, by using solutions from fast growth technology-enabled businesses. This is great opportunity for ambitious companies in the region, as PwC will be looking for a number of firms to take part and pitch to a room of Executives with their ideas and meet key PwC clients.
The series of announcements formed part of Public Sector Digital Midlands, an inspiring event born out of the convergence and shared will of Midlands’ public sector teams to position the region as the UK’s leading hub for public sector digital skills and services.
The strength of the region’s private sector tech and digital capabilities is well documented – it is the largest digital cluster of any other region outside London. But what this event has highlighted is the true scale and breadth of the digital talentpool in the West Midlands, which extends to highly innovative government departments that are transforming public services for people across the country.
These talented, local digital teams are spearheading something exciting. As a result of Public Sector Digital Midlands, a new blueprint to transform and unify public sector digital teams, will be created. The blueprint will explore how digital services and collaboration can be improved across central & local government, national organisations & education providers and local suppliers.
This event has highlighted the fantastic efforts from both the public and private sectors to place tech and digital at the heart of our agenda here in the West Midlands. Yet, we’re only at the beginning of an even greater period of digital transformation that will take place in our region. The West Midlands will not only be the UK’s first 5G testbed; its UrbanChallenge will catalyse public-private partnership in a bid to ensure our public services are smarter and more innovative than ever before.
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Tech Sector Lead